Texas Legal Services Center
Rural Legal Clinics Pilot Project
The state of Texas is called great for many reasons, including its size. To put its size into prospective, residents of Texarkana are geographically as close to El Paso as they are to Chicago, Illinois. And while Texas is home to some of the most populous cities in the U.S., it is also the state with the largest rural population, with more than 3,847,000 Texans living in the expansive rural parts of the state, as of the 2010 Census.
It is often difficult for those living in rural areas to access resources that are readily available in urban cities. Texas Legal Services Center (TLSC) created “Rural Legal Clinics Pilot Project” to circumvent the inaccessibility of legal aid and the lack of brick and mortar legal offices. This project will utilize internet video conferencing, public libraries, and volunteer attorneys to deliver free legal assistance to Texans living in rural areas with limited means.
A grant from the Texas Bar Foundation assisted TLSC in their mission to expand the availability of legal assistance for low-income individuals. TLSC will utilize existing information technology at public libraries in relatively populous rural areas to host virtual legal clinics, enabling Texans living in Gray, Kerr, Panola, Pecos, Uvalde, and Washington counties to meet “face to face” with a licensed attorney, over the internet. TLSC will provide each library location with the necessary equipment to facilitate the program including webcams, headsets, printers and scanners.
“The Virtual Legal Clinic Program is an innovative approach to ensuring access to justice. Based on the pilot results, we anticipate that it will become widely available throughout Texas and replicated in other states.”
Executive Director of Texas Legal Services Center